Hyderabad: There may be two, not just one leopard involved in the killing of 13 calves so far in villages close to the Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary in Medak district.
The image of one leopard was captured on Saturday night feeding on the last of the calf kills recorded in the current series of attacks on domestic cattle.
A closer examination of the location data of the kills so far by officials is learnt to have led them to veer around to the possibility of two leopards being involved in the killings. “There is a highway with dense traffic to be crossed multiple times by one animal for it to have killed the calves in different villages. Also, in the beginning, the kills were close to each other in terms of time which indicate the possibility of another leopard also being involved in the attacks,” a senior Forest Department official said.
Officials of the Forest Department who on Sunday heaved a sigh of relief after picture of the leopard emerged, on Monday expressed caution against celebrating too early.
Also, the photographed leopard is yet to be trapped and any success on this front will likely depend on it making another kill which can then be used as bait in a trap cage.
The picture was taken by a camera trap placed near a calf kill near Kazepalle village on the fringe of the reserve forest area.
So far, the killing of calves has been reported from Kazepalle in Medak mandal; Lakshampur, Katriyal and Dandupaly sare on the forest fringe and within a couple of kilometres of each other.
Two other villages where calves were killed are Akkannapeta and Tonigandla in Chinna Shankarampet mandal which are about 15 km to 18 km from Kazepalle.
All of these areas until a few years ago had unbroken forest stretches but residential and village expansions, and farming resulted in emergence of isolated forest patches, an official said. This was causing wild animals such as leopards coming into increasing contact with cattle and other livestock which become easy prey, the official said.
It was also possible that the leopard or leopards behind the cattle kills, for different reasons, were unable to hunt natural prey such as deer and had resorted to killing calves which were easy for them to kill, the official reasoned.